formerly "Cuyahoga River RAP"

The Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC)

formerly Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan (RAP)

Bringing 1 river, 21 subwatersheds, and 10 miles of Lake Erie shore back to health

The Cuyahoga River is one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) – waters in the the U.S. and Canada that have experienced environmental degradation, fail to meet the objectives of the U.S.- Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA,) and are impaired in their ability to support aquatic life or beneficial uses.

The GLWQA required that each of the Areas of Concern develop a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) to identify the Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) and their causes, develop criteria for restoration, implement remedial measures, monitor the effectiveness of such measures, and confirm that restoration is achieved.

The Cuyahoga River has 8 remaining Beneficial Use Impairments. (See the list at "The Plan and Targets.") Two of the original ten impairments – Aesthetics and Public Access – were deemed no longer to be impaired, and were removed from the list in late 2017.

OhioEPA is the state agency in charge of AOC delisting.
Each AOC has a local stakeholder committee. The Cuyahoga AOC Advisory Committee serves that purpose. The committee includes dozens of stakeholders – agencies, park systems, watershed stewardship groups, businesses, etc) who developed the Delisting Action Plan and are currently involved in implementing the plan.

The Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC)

The lower 46.5 miles of the Cuyahoga River, including all the tributaries that drain to that section of river, and the adjacent Lake Erie shoreline and its tributaries, comprise the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern. The AOC begins at the head of the Gorge Dam pool in Akron/Cuyahoga Falls, ends at Lake Erie, and includes the shoreline from the western Cleveland border to Euclid Creek on the east.

big news,  big events, big info

2 impairments down, 8 to go!

Cuyahoga AOC Advisory Committee recommends removal of Aesthetics and Public Access impairments

CLEVELAND – On Thursday, July 20, the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC) Advisory Committee concluded that aesthetics and public access have improved dramatically, and voted unanimously to request that OhioEPA and U.S. EPA remove them from the list of ten Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) identified in its Remedial Action Plan. The Cuyahoga and nearby Lake Erie tributaries comprise one of the 27 federally-designated U.S. areas that have experienced environmental degradation.

Surveys and observations over the past few years have shown that persistent “occurrences of sludge, oil, scum or other objectionable materials that produce color, odor or other nuisances,” which are the measure of aesthetic quality set forth in the Remedial Action Plan, are now either nonexistent in the Area of Concern or are being remediated by long term control plans to reduce combined sewer overflows. Litter and woody debris are not considered persistent impairments in this category.

The second impairment, dealing with a lack of public access to the navigation channel and lakefront for recreation, was identified in the initial Plan as a local impairment and not subject to the federal guidelines that govern the other nine impairments. In the years since the impairment was added to the list in the early ‘90s, the development of trails, rowing clubs, fishing areas, boating and paddle sport amenities, residential areas, and dining and entertainment facilities has provided the public access that now allows its removal and signals full recovery.

“This is a significant step forward on the path to delisting the Cuyahoga. It’s great to know that the progress we’re making to restore the AOC can now be recognized. With lasting support from state and federal agencies, and local partners, we can see a future when we reach all our restoration goals,” said Jennifer Grieser, Chair of the Advisory Committee.

Read the draft recommendations prepared by Ohio EPA:

Removal Recommendation for Recreational Access BUI

Removal Recommendation for Degradation of Aesthetics BUI


Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to those who participated in our 2016 AOC Symposium.

More than a hundred river lovers decided to spend a 70°F November day inside with us!


Thanks to Advisory Committee Chair and Vice Chair, Jenn and Meiring, to Ellen, Becky, Kathleen and the Public Outreach Committee, and to the whole AOC Advisory Committee, whose ceaseless energy made the day great. Thanks to Kacey, for managing all the prep work that made the day happen.


To our keynote speaker, Melanie Foose of Michigan DEQ, and to all the featured panelists, we appreciate your expertise and dedication to your AOCs. Thanks for traveling to be with us.

Thank you to the "conductors" of the Discussion Depots. You made traveling to your station worth the ticket.


Thank you to all the watershed leaders and exhibitors whose displays added even more information to the symposium.


And thanks again to our event sponsors...


This product or publication was financed in part or totally through a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, with funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The contents and views, including any opinions, findings, or conclusions or recommendations, contained in this product or publication are those of the authors and have not been subject to any U.S. EPA or Ohio EPA peer or administrative review and may not necessarily reflect the views of either Agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

 Cuyahoga River Restoration
formerly Cuyahoga River Community Planning

is the local 501c3 facilitating organization that raises funds, manages programs and projects, including this website, and coordinates, staffs, and assists the Advisory Committee.

1299 Superior Ave. E • Cleveland, OH 44114
216-241-2414 •